Many Labs that come into our rescue were once cute little puppies that were gifts to family members. That cute little puppy grew up to be an 80 lb. chewing machine, that no one had time to obedience train or play with, and that no one really wanted in the first place. You may think that this won’t happen to you - think again, we see this situation on a regular basis and it breaks our heart every time.
The decision to bring a dog into your family should be a family decision - not a surprise gift. Everyone, including the children, should educate themselves on different breeds of dogs and decide what breed or mixed breed would fit best into the family’s lifestyle. You, as the adult in the household, will be responsible for this pet—not your children. Children’s interests come and go, including their interest in caring for a dog. You must be willing to accept this responsibility for yourself, which is another reason not to give the gift of a dog to your children. Also, you must be willing to care for this dog for the next 10-15 years. Where will your children be in 10-15 years? Is your current 10-year-old child who desperately wants a dog now, really going to want the responsibility of feeding, walking, and playing with that Lab when they are socially active teenagers in a few years?
Instead of buying that cute little puppy as a gift, buy the gift of knowledge. Visit your local shelter to look at and play with dogs. Let your children ask questions to the shelter volunteers. Ask the shelter volunteers to help educate your children on the huge responsibility that is dog ownership.
Give gifts of books and videos on buying, training and caring for a dog. These gifts are a wonderful way to introduce the joys of pet ownership and will help you all decide on the perfect dog to bring into your family— a decision that ALL of you should make together.